Verbal and emotional abuse is against the law. It is interesting how many aggressors or abusers tell their victims that what they are doing is not illegal or damaging. Remember that you are not wrong to act against verbal and emotional abuse. Maintain a calm, confident approach. Report serious emotional abuse, including abuse against children, to the police. Never remain silent about any form of abuse.
Tell a close friend or relative about the verbal or emotional abuse you or someone you know is receiving. Ask your friend or relative's opinion to find out if they agree that there is a serious problem; this will improve your confidence in going further with your complaint. Note the key facts about the abuse, including times and dates you can remember that the abuse occurred.
Ask your friend or relative if they will support you when you report the problem, because it can be difficult making the first complaint.
Decide whether you need to go to a lawyer, the local police or a child protection service. Choose to visit a lawyer first if you are the victim and are ready to begin legal proceedings. Choose the police if you need immediate assistance or have just been attacked. Choose a child protection agency if the abuse is happening to a child or young person you know.
Go directly to a lawyer if you have sufficient funds or ask the police to help you receive free assistance through them. After the initial criminal investigation into the claims, the case will be transferred to the prosecutor's office. Report any additional forms of abuse you know of, such as domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse, because these serious acts, if true, will increase your chances of a successful prosecution.
Contact your local police by telephone first to arrange an appointment. Unless you are faced with an emergency, avoid dialling the emergency contact number. Instead, use the non-emergency police number. Look the non-emergency number up in your local directory or use the Internet. If you are reporting the abuse of someone else, remember that they may not wish to be involved in prosecuting their attacker, perhaps because of fear or retribution. As The Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse explains, women who are suffering the effects of a violent, abusive relationship may not behave the way you expect, especially when in front of the police.
Contact your local child protection service, also called the "child protection authority," if the abuse you wish to report is against a child, such as anyone under the age of 18 years. Remember age is also important in deciding what sort of prosecution to pursue against the abuser because a person can only be prosecuted as an adult, using adult law, when they reach their 18th birthday, as explained by The University of Minnesota.
Listen to the advice given by the police or the child protection agency. Write or record a statement about the abuse if they ask you to because this will help prosecute your abuser. Ask to receive the help of a professional counsellor if the task becomes too difficult, because the police can put you in touch with a counselling service in your area.
Never invent a serious accusation to get help or draw attention to yourself. You could ruin someone's life. If you feel helpless or depressed, seek the help of a doctor, counsellor or psychiatrist. Do not be afraid to report genuine abuse whether it is physical, emotional or sexual, because all forms of abuse are equally wrong and may lead to prosecution.
Tips and warnings
- Never invent a serious accusation to get help or draw attention to yourself. You could ruin someone's life. If you feel helpless or depressed, seek the help of a doctor, counsellor or psychiatrist.
- Do not be afraid to report genuine abuse whether it is physical, emotional or sexual, because all forms of abuse are equally wrong and may lead to prosecution.
- Ohio Link; "Child Maltreatment: Is There a Correlation Between Child Maltreatment and Delinquency?"; Elizabeth A. MacDonald; 2010
- The Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse; Criminal Prosecution of Domestic Violence; Linda A. McGuire; 1999
- The University of Minnesota; "When Does a Child Become an Adult?"; James Park; 2009